Thursday, July 28, 2016

Psalm 13 (Prime No 2, Thursday) - Short summaries

Detail of an historiated initial 'D'(ixit) of a king and fool at the beginning of Psalm 52.:
BL Harley 1892, British Library

Psalm 13 (14) - Dixit insípiens in corde suo  

In finem. Psalmus David.
Unto the end, a psalm for David.
Dixit insípiens in corde suo: * Non est Deus.
The fool has said in his heart: There is no God.
2  Corrúpti sunt, et abominábiles facti sunt in stúdiis suis: * non est qui fáciat bonum, non est usque ad unum.
They are corrupt, and have become abominable in their ways: there is none that does good, no not one.
3  Dóminus de cælo prospéxit super fílios hóminum, * ut vídeat si est intélligens, aut requírens Deum.
The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there be any that understand and seek God.
4  Omnes declinavérunt, simul inútiles facti sunt: * non est qui fáciat bonum, non est usque ad unum.
They are all gone aside, they have become unprofitable together: there is none that does good: no not one.
a  Sepúlcrum patens est guttur eórum: linguis suis dolóse agébant * venénum áspidum sub lábiis eórum.(Ps 5:10)
Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they acted deceitfully: the poison of asps is under their lips.
 b Quorum os maledictióne et amaritúdine plenum est: * velóces pedes eórum ad effundéndum sánguinem (Ps 10:7)
Their mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood.
 C  Contrítio et infelícitas in viis eórum, et viam pacis non cognovérunt: * non est timor Dei ante óculos eórum.](Is 59:7-8; Prov 1:16)
Destruction and unhappiness in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes.
5  Nonne cognóscent omnes qui operántur iniquitátem, * qui dévorant plebem meam sicut escam panis?
Shall not all they know that work iniquity, who devour my people as they eat bread?
6  Dóminum non invocavérunt, * illic trepidavérunt timóre, ubi non erat timor.
They have not called upon the Lord: there have they trembled for fear, where there was no fear
7  Quóniam Dóminus in generatióne justa est, consílium ínopis confudístis: * quóniam Dóminus spes ejus est.
For the Lord is in the just generation: you have confounded the counsel of the poor man; but the Lord is his hope.
8  Quis dabit ex Sion salutáre Israël? * cum averterit Dóminus captivitátem plebis suæ, exsultábit Jacob, et lætábitur Israël.
Who shall give out of Sion the salvation of Israel? When the Lord shall have turned away the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad.

The title of this psalm in the Septuagint is ‘to the end’, which the commentators see as pointing to its Christological application, for as St Paul says (Romans 10: 4) ‘Christ is the end of the law’.  In Romans 3, St Paul cites this psalm (including a number of verses expunged from 1962 and onwards editions of the psalter, see my note below) as part of his explanation of the idea that no one can be saved by the (old) law alone, but only through Christ. 

The overall theme of the psalm is the corrupted state of man that flows from Original Sin, and is manifested in the malice and deceitfulness of those who oppose God – to the point of plotting to kill Our Lord.  It forms something of a pair with the third psalm of Prime on Thursday, since today’s psalm finds no one who does any good, whereas Psalm 14 paints the picture of the perfect man.

You can hear it read aloud here but I'm afraid I haven't been able to locate any useful recordings of it being sung.

St Athanasius:
When you hear people blaspheming against the providence of God, intercede with God with this psalm
St Augustine:
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believes; Romans 10:4 as the Apostle says. We believe in Him, when we begin to enter on the good road: we shall see Him, when we shall get to the end. And therefore is He the end. For not even have certain sacrilegious and abominable philosophers, who entertain perverse and false notions of God, dared to say, There is no God.

St Alphonsus Liguori:
The prophet deplores the blindness and the corruption of the wicked, and especially of infidels. Epistle to the Romans, iii. 10, where the Apostle cites a part of this psalm.
Fr Pasch:
Enemies of God’s Kingdom.  Lord, overcome the man of sin in me. First of all, we must scout our enemy, sin.  A good general never underestimates his enemy. Their godless doings.

 Notes on the text of Psalm 13: 

(1) Psalm 13 is almost identical to Psalm 52, so by learning this one, you get two for the price of one.
(2) If you compare the text in the latest editions of the Monastic Diurnal or 1962 Breviary to the Vulgate or Douay-Rheims (or older versions of the psalter) you will note that there are some missing verses  - I’ve included them in the table above, labeled a, b and c in italics.  These verses were removed from monastic office, and subsequently from the official neo-Vulgate text on the basis, as far as I can gather, that they aren't in the Hebrew 'original' and were just accidental Christian interpolations of other texts (and they are all verses used elsewhere in Scripture, as I have noted), with a note of the original source of the citation).

However, in Romans 3:13-18 St Paul cites the psalm including these verses, and in my view there is no real reason for thinking that he was filling it out with other parts of Scripture; regardless they have always been treated as part of the psalm in the Latin tradition.   I think I've found the reason for this particular subversion of the tradition, and its a rather ugly one, but I will share it on Saint Will Arise in the near future as I think it is important.

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